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23

People go out to their work

and to their labor until the evening.

 

24

O Lord, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

25

Yonder is the sea, great and wide,

creeping things innumerable are there,

living things both small and great.

26

There go the ships,

and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

 

27

These all look to you

to give them their food in due season;

28

when you give to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

29

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

when you take away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

30

When you send forth your spirit, they are created;

and you renew the face of the ground.

 

31

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32

who looks on the earth and it trembles,

who touches the mountains and they smoke.

33

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praise to my God while I have being.


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The Divine Bounty.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.   20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.   21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.   22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.   23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.   24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.   25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.   26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.   27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.   28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.   29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.   30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

We are here taught to praise and magnify God,

I. For the constant revolutions and succession of day and night, and the dominion of sun and moon over them. The heathen were so affected with the light and influence of the sun and moon, and their serviceableness to the earth, that they worshipped them as deities; and therefore the scripture takes all occasions to show that the gods they worshipped are the creatures and servants of the true God (v. 19): He appointed the moon for seasons, for the measuring of the months, the directing of the seasons for the business of the husbandman, and the governing of the tides. The full and change, the increase and decrease, of the moon, exactly observe the appointment of the Creator; so does the sun, for he keeps as punctually to the time and place of his going down as if he were an intellectual being and knew what he did. God herein consults the comfort of man. 1. The shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night (v. 20): Thou makes darkness and it is night, which, though black, contributes to the beauty of nature, and is as a foil to the light of the day; and under the protection of the night all the beasts of the forest creep forth to feed, which they are afraid to do in the day, God having put the fear and dread of man upon every beast of the earth (Gen. ix. 2), which contributes as much to man's safety as to his honour. See how nearly allied those are to the disposition of the wild beasts who wait for the twilight (Job xxiv. 15) and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; and compare to this the danger of ignorance and melancholy, which are both as darkness to the soul; when, in either of those ways, it is night, then all the beasts of the forest creep forth. Satan's temptations then assault us and have advantage against us. Then the young lions roar after their prey; and, as naturalists tell us, their roaring terrifies the timorous beasts so that they have not strength nor spirit to escape from them, which otherwise they might do, and so they become an easy prey to them. They are said to seek their meat from God, because it is not prepared for them by the care and forecast of man, but more immediately by the providence of God. The roaring of the young lions, like the crying of the young ravens, is interpreted asking their meat of God. Does God put this construction upon the language of mere nature, even in venomous creatures? and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though it be weak and broken, groanings which cannot be uttered? 2. The light of the morning befriends the business of the day (v. 22, 23): The sun arises (for, as he knows his going down, so, thanks be to God, he knows his rising again), and then the wild beasts betake themselves to their rest; even they have some society among them, for they gather themselves together and lay down in their dens, which is a great mercy to the children of men, that while they are abroad, as becomes honest travellers, between sun and sun, care is taken that they shall not be set upon by wild beasts, for they are then drawn out of the field, and the sluggard shall have no ground to excuse himself from the business of the day with this, That there is a lion in the way. Therefore then man goes forth to his work and to his labour. The beasts of prey creep forth with fear; man goes forth with boldness, as one that has dominion. The beasts creep forth to spoil and do mischief; man goes forth to work and do good. There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning (for the lights are set up for us to work by, not to play by) and which he must stick to till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work.

II. For the replenishing of the ocean (v. 25, 26): As the earth is full of God's riches, well stocked with animals, and those well provided for, so that it is seldom that any creature dies merely for want of food, so is this great and wide sea which seems a useless part of the globe, at least not to answer the room it takes up; yet God has appointed it its place and made it serviceable to man both for navigation (there go the ships, in which goods are conveyed, to countries vastly distant, speedily and much more cheaply than by land-carriage) and also to be his storehouse for fish. God made not the sea in vain, any more than the earth; he made it to be inherited, for there are things swimming innumerable, both small and great animals, which serve for man's dainty food. The whale is particularly mentioned in the history of the creation (Gen. i. 21) and is here called the leviathan, as Job xli. 1. He is made to play in the sea; he has nothing to do, as man has, who goes forth to his work; he has nothing to fear, as the beasts have, that lie down in their dens; and therefore he plays with the waters. It is a pity that any of the children of men, who have nobler powers and were made for nobler purposes, should live as if they were sent into the world, like leviathan into the waters, to play therein, spending all their time in pastime. The leviathan is said to play in the waters, because he is so well armed against all assaults that he sets them at defiance and laughs at the shaking of a spear, Job xli. 29.

III. For the seasonable and plentiful provision which is made for all the creatures, v. 27, 28. 1. God is a bountiful benefactor to them: He gives them their meat; he opens his hand and they are filled with good. He supports the armies both of heaven and earth. Even the meanest creatures are not below his cognizance. He is open-handed in the gifts of his bounty, and is a great and good housekeeper that provides for so large a family. 2. They are patient expectants from him: They all wait upon him. They seek their food, according to the natural instinct God has put into them and in the proper season for it, and affect not any other food, or at any other time, than nature has ordained. They do their part for the obtaining of it: what God gives them they gather, and expect not that Providence should put it into their mouths; and what they gather they are satisfied with—they are filled with good. They desire no more than what God sees fit for them, which may shame our murmurings, and discontent, and dissatisfaction with our lot.

IV. For the absolute power and sovereign dominion which he has over all the creatures, by which every species is still continued, though the individuals of each are daily dying and dropping off. See here, 1. All the creatures perishing (v. 29): Thou hidest thy face, withdrawest thy supporting power, thy supplying bounty, and they are troubled immediately. Every creature has as necessary a dependence upon God's favours as every saint is sensible he has and therefore says with David (Ps. xxx. 7), Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled. God's displeasure against this lower world for the sin of man is the cause of all the vanity and burden which the whole creation groans under. Thou takest away their breath, which is in thy hand, and then, and not till then, they die and return to their dust, to their first principles. The spirit of the beast, which goes downward, is at God's command, as well as the spirit of a man, which goes upward. The death of cattle was one of the plagues of Egypt, and is particularly taken notice of in the drowning of the world. 2. All preserved notwithstanding, in a succession (v. 30): Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created. The same spirit (that is, the same divine will and power) by which they were all created at first still preserves the several sorts of creatures in their being, and place, and usefulness; so that, though one generation of them passes away, another comes, and from time to time they are created; new ones rise up instead of the old ones, and this is a continual creation. Thus the face of the earth is renewed from day to day by the light of the sun (which beautifies it anew every morning), from year to year by the products of it, which enrich it anew every spring and put quite another face upon it from what it had all winter. The world is as full of creatures as if none died, for the place of those that die is filled up. This (the Jews say) is to be applied to the resurrection, which every spring is an emblem of, when a new world rises out of the ashes of the old one.

In the midst of this discourse the psalmist breaks out into wonder at the works of God (v. 24): O Lord! how manifold are thy works! They are numerous, they are various, of many kinds, and many of every kind; and yet in wisdom hast thou made them all. When men undertake many works, and of different kinds, commonly some of them are neglected and not done with due care; but God's works, though many and of very different kinds, are all made in wisdom and with the greatest exactness; there is not the least flaw nor defect in them. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon with the help of microscopes, the more rough they appear; the works of nature through these glasses appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they are all made to answer the end they were designed to serve, the good of the universe, in order to the glory of the universal Monarch.

The Divine Bounty.

31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.   32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.   33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.   34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.   35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.

The psalmist concludes this meditation with speaking,

I. Praise to God, which is chiefly intended in the psalm.

1. He is to be praised, (1.) As a great God, and a God of matchless perfection: The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever, v. 31. It shall endure to the end of time in his works of creation and providence; it shall endure to eternity in the felicity and adorations of saints and angels. Man's glory is fading; God's glory is everlasting. Creatures change, but with the Creator there is no variableness. (2.) As a gracious God: The Lord shall rejoice in his works. He continues that complacency in the products of his own wisdom and goodness which he had when he saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good, and rested the seventh day. We often do that which, upon the review, we cannot rejoice in, but are displeased at, and wish undone again, blaming our own management. But God always rejoices in his works, because they are all done in wisdom. We regret our bounty and beneficence, but God never does; he rejoices in the works of his grace: his gifts and callings are without repentance. (3.) As a God of almighty power (v. 32): He looks on the earth, and it trembles, as unable to bear his frowns—trembles, as Sinai did, at the presence of the Lord. He touches the hills, and they smoke. The volcanoes, or burning mountains, such as Ætna, are emblems of the power of God's wrath fastening upon proud unhumbled sinners. If an angry look and a touch have such effects, what will the weight of his heavy hand do and the operations of his outstretched arm? Who knows the power of his anger? Who then dares set it at defiance? God rejoices in his works because they are all so observant of him; and he will in like manner take pleasure in those that fear him and that tremble at his word.

2. The psalmist will himself be much in praising him (v. 33): "I will sing unto the Lord, unto my God, will praise him as Jehovah, the Creator, and as my God, a God in covenant with me, and this not now only, but as long as I live, and while I have my being." Because we have our being from God, and depend upon him for the support and continuance of it, as long as we live and have our being we must continue to praise God; and when we have no life, no being, on earth, we hope to have a better life and better being in a better world and there to be doing this work in a better manner and in better company.

II. Joy to himself (v. 34): My meditation of him shall be sweet; it shall be fixed and close; it shall be affecting and influencing; and therefore it shall be sweet. Thoughts of God will then be most pleasing, when they are most powerful. Note, Divine meditation is a very sweet duty to all that are sanctified: "I will be glad in the Lord; it shall be a pleasure to me to praise him; I will be glad of all opportunities to set forth his glory; and I will rejoice in the Lord always and in him only." All my joys shall centre in him, and in him they shall be full.

III. Terror to the wicked (v. 35): Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth; and let the wicked be no more. 1. Those that oppose the God of power, and fight against him, will certainly be consumed; none can prosper that harden themselves against the Almighty. 2. Those that rebel against the light of such convincing evidence of God's being, and refuse to serve him whom all the creatures serve, will justly be consumed. Those that make that earth to groan under the burden of their impieties which God thus fills with his riches deserve to be consumed out of it, and that it should spue them out. 3. Those that heartily desire to praise God themselves cannot but have a holy indignation at those that blaspheme and dishonour him, and a holy satisfaction in the prospect of their destruction and the honour that God will get to himself upon them. Even this ought to be the matter of their praise: "While sinners are consumed out of the earth, let my soul bless the Lord that I am not cast away with the workers of iniquity, but distinguished from them by the special grace of God. When the wicked are no more I hope to be praising God world without end; and therefore, Praise you the Lord; let all about me join with me in praising God. Hallelujah; sing praise to Jehovah." This is the first time that we meet with Hallelujah; and it comes in here upon occasion of the destruction of the wicked; and the last time we meet with it is upon a similar occasion. When the New-Testament Babylon is consumed, this is the burden of the song, Hallelujah, Rev. xix. 1, 3, 4, 6.




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